In July 2009, BMW announced that it would withdraw from Formula One racing at the end of the Season
BMW, an abbreviation for Bavarian Motor Works, is an independent motorcycle and car manufacturer based in Munich, Germany. The manufacturer is known world-wide for producing beautiful, up-market cars that are a pleasure to drive. BMW also acts as a parent company for MINI and Rolls-Royce. The company has been involved in motor sport ever since they created their first motorcycle. They have competed successfully in Formula One racing, Formula Two racing and Rally racing, amongst others.
Initially BMW supported existing Formula One teams such as Williams and McLaren. In 2005, BMW made the decision to leave Williams F1 and to purchase the Sauber F1 team which was founded by Peter Sauber in 1993. The team became known as BMW – Sauber F1 and although BMW is the owner, constructor and engine manufacturer for the team, they decided to leave the Sauber name as a gesture of goodwill to Peter Sauber who currently acts as a consultant for the team.
BMW started its involvement in motor vehicle racing in the 1940s. They initially used their 328 model to participate in F2 racing, using the sport as a stepping stone to F1 racing. They ran their own team until F2 racing was stopped periodically in 1955 and then switched to F1. Even though F2 was later revived, BMW decided not to get involved with this aspect of the sport again – that was until F2 regulations allowed 1600cc motors. Suddenly the idea of F2 racing became a lot more appealing and by the end of the 1960s, BMW had developed the ‘M12’ engine as well as their 269 chassis. They continued to enjoy great success through the 1970s and decided to get more involved in F1 in the 1980s.
In 1982, BMW raced their first turbocharged engine, the M12/13. It was a complete success and it took its first win and the Canadian Grand Prix. The following year the engine took four more wins and won the driver’s championship. By 1984, BMW was supplying quite a few F1 teams with their multiple-victory engines. Despite BMW’s withdrawal from the sport near the end of 1986, the engine continued to be in use until turbocharged motors were banned from the sport. Tody the BMW M12/13 Turbocharged 14 engine is still recognised as being the first F1 engine capable of a 1000hp racing trim. In 1997 BMW developed a partnership with the Williams Grand Prix Engineering. The partnership proved to be most successful and BMW went on to enjoy many wins with excellent drivers like Ralf Schumacher, Jenson Button and Pablo Montoya behind the wheel.
In 2005, disagreements between BMW and Williams resulted in a bad season and the decline of the partnership. BMW decided to purchase Sauber’s multi-million dollar research and development facility and take over the team. In 2006, the BMW-Sauber F1 team was born allowing BMW to exercise full control over their own team.
The sport of motor racing has thrilled thousands ever since it first began. It wasn’t long after the first ‘horseless carriages’ had been invented and improved upon that the idea of pitting the strengths of different designs, and the skills of drivers, against one another in a race was conceived. The first organized racing event was in actual fact a Reliability Trial run which took place between Paris and Rouen in 1894. The winning vehicle had to, not only cross the finish line first, but had to be safe, easy to control and reasonably economical to run. The first over the line was Count de Dion, but his vehicle was deemed impractical and the prizes were awarded to the next two cars instead. The winning average speed was only 17km/h but the event gave birth to a new craze – motor racing.
As designs continued to be improved upon, the new sport saw a continued increase in cylinders and engine size. The addition of the pneumatic tire was impractical at first but soon gained popularity. Chassis design changed radically and new brake and tire designs struggled to keep up. And as soon as one design became the winning standard, other car manufacturers would strive to improve upon these to bring their own names into the lime-light. By the early 1900s car speeds were approaching 100mph and races where held on open roads, where both drivers and spectators where often involved in bad accidents. Eventually in 1906 the very first Grand Prix for manufacturers was held by the French. The race took place on a 64 mile course which was lapped six times a day for two days.
It did not take long for other countries to follow suit. Germany became a popular place for racing and their Mercedes motorcars often dominated the scene. The Alfa of Italy and the Fiat and Peugeot of France rose to the challenge, and soon they claimed supremacy for themselves. Because of the dangers involved in racing on public roads, wealthy enthusiasts soon started building oval racing circuits which became very popular. An attempt was made to counteract the dangers of the sport by increasing the rules and regulations surrounding the event. Eventually a recognized and standardized racing sport emerged and much of these standards are still maintained in the motor racing sporting events of today.
Perhaps no racing name is more closely linked with the Indianapolis 500 than Offenhauser. This venerable engine manufacturer was a dominant force at The Brickyard from the early 1930s up until the 1960s. Offenhauser remained a force to be reckoned with until 1983, rounding out a spectacular half-century run as America’s most advanced racing engines.
It all began in the heady days of the Roaring Twenties when investors were more than happy to fund the newest technological breakthroughs. In the field of racing engine design, one name stood out: Fred Offenhauser. Working closely with Harry Miller, Offenhauser introduced an engine that was revolutionary for its time yet quite familiar to us today – a dual overhead cam (DOHC) motor sporting 4 valves per cylinder. Although small in displacement, even for the era, the advanced 4-cylinder engine Offenhauser & Miller introduced in 1930 was deceptively powerful. The first variant of the new engine displaced 151 cubic inches and promptly set a new land speed record of 144.895 mph. Further development of the engine saw displacement increase to 251.92 cubic inches. Using a 15:1 compression ratio, this engine was rated at up to 420 horsepower and was eagerly sought by racing teams of the day.
Offenhauser-powered cars won the Indy 500 a staggering 24 times from 1934 through 1960, including an unparalleled run of 11 consecutive victories from 1950 to 1960 inclusive. Paving the Speedway’s trademark brick track in 1956 was expected to increase average speeds, yet 32 of the top 33 qualifiers featured Offenhauser engines. So dominant was the Offenhauser engine that in 4 races; the 1954, 1955, 1959 & 1960 Indy 500s, EVERY car in the starting lineup had an “Offy” engine! It was this rare feat that sealed Offenhauser’s reputation as America’s premier engine maker, and the name Offenhauser still resonates in the halls of Indy 500 history long after their days of glory have faded.
Wood Brothers is one of the best known families in all of NASCAR racing and inspires awe in everyone who follows NASCAR. Glen Wood is head of the Wood family, and yes he was a top NASCAR driver himself. The team is certainly a big name on the NACAR circuit today, but Glen had to claw his way up the NASCAR ranks the hard way. He turned to NASCAR as a business after he won many accolades and driven on most of the top tracks including at Daytona.
The Wood Brothers have been as much of a commercial success on the NASCAR circuit, as Glen was as a driver in his personal capacity. Glen has built up his machines and drivers with the same dedication which he showed behind the wheels. Drivers from the pits of the Wood Brothers have distinguished themselves as some of the best the sport has ever seen.
Many members of the Wood family have played important roles in the team’s NASCAR victories. There seems to be something special in their genes for auto racing! Leonard Wood has not been a driver, and has preferred to remain behind the scenes. He has specialized in speedy pit service, and has fine engineering knowledge of engines. Leonard is Glen’s brother. You may not have seen him, or even may not have heard of him before, but you can be certain that he must have had a big hand in each event for which you admire the Wood Brothers!
A new generation of Woods has taken charge of NASCAR racing. Both of Glen’s sons are actively involved in the sport, and his daughter has a support role as well. The children pay more attention to the marketing and finance aspects of NASCAR racing than their father ever did, but fortunately they have kept the high technical standards which marked the Wood Brothers from the inception.
Ford has a close association with the Wood Brothers, and it has been a relationship that has helped both sides! The Wood Brothers also work actively with the U.S. Air Force, helping to attract recruits from the vast NASCAR fan community. No wonder that this team so scorches the U.S. auto racing scene!
NASCAR racing need not be pure recreation if you appreciate engineering and informatics. There is great technological prowess behind success in NASCAR racing. It is not a simple matter of pushing machines and men to their limits. Providing spectators with enjoyment is serious business!
Drivers, cars, and teams have to come together to win races. No one cog of this wheel can function on its own. You must know that driver performances change when they switch teams, and the same applies to owners who contract new drivers and crew chiefs. What do all these people do? Why does one team outperform another on a consistent basis, even though the cars adhere to the same specifications?
NASCAR regulations are both a plus for spectators and a drag on owners at the same time. Engines and other critical race performance parameters have to be kept within strict limits for an event to qualify for NASCAR. You cannot use special engines or allow any advantage to the home team. This keeps the crowds coming in. All of America knows that NASCAR is fair. Only the best team can win! It is the rule of merit, and there are no exceptions. So what does an owner do to put a best foot forward?
Bring an engineer and a computer expert in to your pit. Drivers and old-timers may not like the intrusion at first, but they soon discover that these wizards can tell you a thing or two to make the difference between a win, a place, and ignominy! It starts with sensors. They place gizmos under the hood, on the tires, and next to suspension and transmission systems, which spy on everything that goes on. The results are in terms of masses of data which no human mind can digest in time for the next NASCAR event. So what you do is to hook the sensors to a computer and voila-you have new insights for crews and for the driver, which boost performance standards! Data acquisition is a relatively new technology on the NASCAR circuit, but it sure makes waves! Look out for the quality of engineering and computer support in a team and you will have a winner on your hands!